Sri Lanka says 18 Tamil Tigers killed in fighting

July 12, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s defence ministry said Saturday troops had destroyed Tamil Tiger bunkers and killed 18 rebels in fighting in the north of the island. Casualty figures on both sides cannot be independently verified as the defence ministry bars journalists from travelling to the frontlines. The military put its own losses at 20 wounded during Friday’s clashes centered around Mannar, Jaffna, Vavuniya and Weli Oya.

On Friday, the military accused the rebels of shooting at a passenger bus in the southeastern region of Buttala, killing four people and wounding 26.

Fighting is centred around the north, but the rebels routinely carry out attacks against military, economic and civilian targets elsewhere on the island.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam did not comment on the bus attack or the fighting in the north.

The latest figure given by the ministry raises the number of rebels killed by government forces to 4,877 since January, while 435 soldiers have died in the same period.